Periodization Should Not Be Used As A Beginner

Periodization Should Not Be Used As A Beginner

If you are a beginner and you are looking at doing a linear or non linear periodization routine, don’t.

Beginners and early intermediates are blessed with being able to progress simply off linear progression.

This means you do not have to complicate your workout schedule other than adding more weight to the bar.

Your first year in the gym should consist of quality training from a quality workout routine and you should strive to add weight to the bar every time you go in there.

What is periodization?

There are two main types of periodization, linear and non-linear;  both use blocks or periods that you do different work set volume and intensities.

The NSCA describes periodization as, “Strategy to promote long-term training and performance improvements with preplanned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity, and volume organized in periods or cycles within an overall program.”

Linear Periodization programs typically start with a higher rep range and lower intensity training cycle such as a 3 sets of 12 reps at 65% and will change to 3 sets of 2 reps at 90+%.

Non-Linear Periodization employs different training methods and workouts much faster throughout the cycle than linear periodization.

For example: The Conjugate Method is one of the more popular types of non-linear periodization and addresses different volumes and intensities simultaneously.

  • Monday – DE Lower Body (8×2 at 60%)
  • Tuesday – DE Upper Body (8×3 at 50%)
  • Thursday – ME Lower Body (Work up to a 1-3 rep max)
  • Friday – ME Upper Body (Work up to a 1-3 rep max)

As you see here, the conjugate method changes things daily instead of weekly or monthly.

Why shouldn’t beginners use these methods?

As a beginner, you have what we call beginner gains which means you can make muscle and strength gains just by picking up a potato.

Beginner gains are nice because you can use linear progression to add a lot of weight to the bar quickly and not worry about undulating periodization or if this is your dynamic effort week or not.

Using these periodization methods just complicates a process that does not need to be complicated at this part of the game. If you spent the time you were using to figure plan out and get your periodization schedule done on cooking, you would set yourself up for much more success.

Don’t get me wrong, beginners can use periodization and make great gains, I just don’t think that is the most effective method when you are first starting out.

What exactly is linear progression?

If you think you haven’t heard of linear progression before, you have. Some people call it progressive overload or simply “adding weight to the bar.” All of these ways are correct, and it is the easiest method for beginners to implement.

In all reality, you could write down on a piece of paper your starting weights and for each of the 52 weeks, add 5 pounds to the bar and call it planning out linear progression.

The main thing I want you to take home from this section is that all you have to focus on as a beginner is getting more weight on that bar. Unless you have plateaued, (which is highly unlikely) you should put more weight on the bar.


If you are a beginner or early intermediate and thinking about using periodization; I don’t recommend it.

I think you can put more time and effort into other things and let your beginner gains carry you as far as you can.

I trained for about 2 years before I started to have to tweak my workouts and introduce some form of periodization. I made massive strength and muscle gains and built a very strong base from linear progression.

Spend your time learning the basics like learning how to listen to your body, getting your form down, and learning to cook instead of figuring out if you should do undulating, tier, or conjugate training.


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2 thoughts on “Periodization Should Not Be Used As A Beginner”

  1. so i dont progress anymore. im beginner. cant do 1 chin up or 1 dip. i do calisthenics.
    what should i do? changing reps, sets, volume, doesnt help.

    1. It’s hard to say because periodization is a technique for lifting weights rather than calisthenics.

      The only “trick” to progressing is keeping track of what you have done so you can strive to do better next time. Chin ups and dips you can use assistance such as bands, an assisted machine if you have access, or perform then with your legs touching and use your legs to help you complete the reps. I don’t have as much experience with calisthenics as I need to, so I can’t offer any advice yet.

      Maybe check out this bodyweight workout. Most exercises there you can use an assisted/easier to perform version to help build your strength and endurance up. Good luck!

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